REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Army Materiel Command security workforce already maintains a caliber of professionalism and skill that keeps its programs proficient and functioning safely. In an effort to ensure that all professionals who fall under the security workforce umbrella have a streamlined set of skills and competencies across the Department of Defense, AMC is assisting with the implementation of a DOD-mandated certification program that aims to elevate the value of the 500+ security professionals in its workforce.
In March 2019, the DOD issued a requirement for DOD personnel, federal employees and contractors who are assigned to a security position to be certified with the Security Professional Education Development (SPēD) Certification. This certification initiative verifies the credibility of security professionals, which promotes interoperability, defines standards, and provides structure for those who are certified to smoothly transfer their skills across programs within the federal government and industry.
The Army and AMC recognizes the importance of streamlining these skills across the enterprise. Katherine Coviello, AMC’s Defense Intelligence Senior Level Executive and Special Advisor for the Material Enterprise Intelligence and Security, said employees who have proved that they’re well-versed in their profession are more agile, accurate and inspire more consumer confidence.
“These are security specialists who help us protect our nation’s security, our national treasures and secrets, our national security information,” she said. “And we need them to be really, really good at what they do. Especially in a time of great power competition.”
As part of recognizing the importance of implementing this workforce certification, Coviello called on the Enterprise Talent Management program in November 2020 to develop a strategy and plan to ensure the workforce can succeed in achieving this requirement. A 90-day virtual TDY with two ETM selectees resulted in multiple phases of identification, research and development of a solution for the enterprise-wide certification implementation.
For AMC, “security” can mean everything from designing facilities securely, making sure installations are protected and contracts are crafted in a meaningful way, to protecting the workforce from insider and external threats. Having a continued education and certification in the field helps to cement that security even more.
“Employees become believers once they take the exam,” Coviello said. “It demonstrates buy-in from the workforce and helps to secure ourselves in this very challenging time.”
The idea is that professional licensure protects the public by enforcing standards that restrict practice to qualified individuals who have met specific qualifications in education, work experience and exams. This process also helps employees land and retain jobs they’re qualified for, and helps employers to quickly spot vetted, mission-ready candidates.
“We’re not saying you weren’t professional before, but now the world will see your credentials,” said Rob Anderson, an AMC Enterprise Talent Management selectee. “The credential speaks for itself.”
Anderson explained that once an employee has been certified, the credential immediately signifies that they have verifiable work experience and that they’ve passed the exams to prove a level of minimum competence for distinct security disciplines throughout the DOD.
“By mandating these certifications, anytime someone deals with or interacts with someone who is SPēD-certified, whether it be within the Army or other security businesses, they’ll know they’re working with a high-caliber professional,” he said.
Ashley Stolze is the Chief of Security at U.S. Army Security Assistance Command and sees first-hand that the SPēD certification process forces employees to dive into subject matter they may not normally study.
“The workforce should pursue the certification because it gives them a true sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are, which alone is a valuable tool,” Stolze said. “Many of us get complacent after doing the same job for years and don’t think there is anything else to learn. The truth is, there is always something to learn and these certifications are a forcing factor to take an inventory of areas that need improvement.”
She said even though some may approach the certification as a “check in the box,” it provides employees with a sense of self-awareness, which she said can only make them more competitive in other positions.
The DOD mandate serves as the basis for Army Regulation 190-13 and a HQDA G-2 Policy Memorandum which explains that all Army security specialists in the 0080-series who started in a new position on or after March 20, 2019, must fulfill the SPēD certification for their position within two years. Anyone who started their current security position before March 20, 2019, are exempt from the mandated certification. However, achieving the certification, regardless of whether it’s required for a specific position, remains valuable to both individuals and employers in the security workforce.
For individuals, having this nationally-accredited certification represents a thorough understanding of the concepts and principles deemed absolutely critical in the security profession. For employers, coming across someone who is SPēD-certified immediately provides a reference for a person’s understanding of the industry’s absolute standards and represents their ability to increase workforce productivity in a way that translates across multiple programs.
If you have questions about the Security Professional Education Development (SPēD) Certification, eligibility, and/or want to know how to begin the certification process, AMC employees should reach out to their respective Career Program Managers and learn more at https://www.cdse.edu/certification/about.html.